[POETRY] Unravelling the revolution

By Lerato Motaung 

Lerato Motaung pens an ode to the unravelling that was the wearing of the doek, how the revolution does not serve her and why she’s tired of “these decolonising revolutionary bodies that refuse to decolonise their way of being in the world.”

black women poer

I guess the headwrap said it all.

It was all the prompting he needed to raise his voice and exclaim,

to his friends (about this doek),

these Mbokodo women are being divisive.


I was still trying to wrap my head around what I was about to be a part of,

a slice of history.


Wits fees were about to fall.


The last thing I wanted…

needed to hear,

was a misogynist telling me how wearing a doek was being divisive.


Fast forward to an hour or two later,

doek still balanced precariously on head.

Another one,

another man screaming at Wits’ incoming President,

voetsek, women, voetsek!”


I am tired.


I am tired of fighting with men,


in one breath,

wax lyrical about the merits of decolonizing our society,

and in the next breath,

spew venom at the women who are unable to stay in their man given place;


whose “silences [have] been socially and patriotically endorsed.”[i]


I am tired of these decolonizing revolutionary bodies that refuse to decolonize their way of being in the world.


Unlike my doek,

I am unable to wrap myself around a hot headed,

patriarchal and misogynistic revolution.

This revolution does not serve me,

or anyone who sounds like me.


It does not care for my body,

unless it [my body] wraps itself around its spear.

Keeping it warm when the white world has sharpened it raw.


It seems strange that I would relate to my doek like this,

but here we are.

Doek and I.

Precariously wrapped around structures that,

for all intent and purpose,

only notice (not acknowledge) our presence when we’re keeping them warm.


However, much like my doek,

I am becoming undone.

Have been coming undone.


My undoing…

my unwrapping, rather,

is my feminism.

The rock upon which I etch the unwritten commandments of my counter revolutionary existence.


And you know what?

Maybe my feminism is divisive.

Maybe my doek is meant to be divisive.

Perhaps, through my unraveling,

I can finally part patriarchy’s red sea.


Maybe with this doek, I can finally part revolution’s anger.

I don’t know.


This rock is not biblical.

This rock,

when struck,

yields no water.


But I have to remember,

constantly remind myself,

that I cannot negotiate myself into existence.


I am no Moses,

but this unraveling is my staff.

This rock is my testament.

This feminism is my commandment.

And this division leads to my survival.

I need this rupture.


[i] Audre Lorde, Zami: A new spelling of my name (pg 55).


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